Understanding Heat Pumps

What is a heat pump system?

A heat pump system is a type of air conditioning and heating solution that functions by moving heat from one location to another. For example, a heat pump system is capable of heating a room by pulling heat from the outside air and transferring it indoors. Conversely, a heat pump system is also capable of cooling an indoor space by pulling the heat from the air in the room. Since they are simply moving heat as opposed to generating it, heat pump systems are energy efficient alternatives to standard AC and heating solutions and can help in the reduction of operating costs.

What are the different types of heat pump systems?

There are three types of heat pumps:  air-to-air, geothermal, and water source.

Air-to-air is the most common type of heat pump, and they operate by moving heating in the air from one location to another. Per the Department of Energy, air-to-air heat pumps are capable of reducing electricity needs by 50% when compared against furnaces and baseboard heaters. While previously not used in colder climates due to concerns about heating effectiveness in the winter months, heat pump technology has improved enough that some air-to-air heat pumps even remain effective in the cold.

Geothermal is another type of heat pump, and it operates by transferring heat from the ground into the space being heated.  While geothermal units are often more expensive to install, they are incredibly reliable, efficient, able to function in harsher climates, and capable of reducing energy use by up to 30-60%.

Water source heat pumps are the final type of heat pump. These systems are only available to homes near a body of water and operate by extracting heat from the water. Similar to geothermal units, water source heat pumps are very efficient, reliable, and effective in harsher climates.

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